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Vacation Anxiety

With the summer months approaching the Bay Area, the notorious June Gloom often triggers thoughts of “I need a vacation.” However, for some this can be a highly stressful situation. From financial considerations to familial responsibilities, the summer vacation season can feel like anything but a … vacation. Below are often heard questions and answers regarding this dilemma we hear at Good Therapy SF.

Why do I have Vacation Anxiety? What is wrong with me?

  • This question reveals an underlying assumption or expectation that anything associated with a vacation is supposed to be relaxing and stress free. So the initial issue is non acceptance. If the vacation process is stressing you out, then telling yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling this way is only going to make it worse.

  • Try approaching it from a supportive or curious way, instead of a judgmental or critical way.

  • An example of a supportive way would be “Time schedules, expenses, being outside of my routines… yes, I can see why there are some things to be stressed about.”

  • For those who have some meditation experience, a curious approach would be “Interesting, I see that I’m having anxiety about this. I wonder what this is about.” Avoid using the word “why” when taking the curious approach, as it tends to have a critical tone.

  • Overall, try to remember that if you are stressed, it is happening for a reason. Being accepting and supportive will always be more helpful than non accepting and critical.

What if I don’t have fun?

  • This is a good example of future tripping, a cognitive distortion. If you are interested, there is an earlier post that examines cognitive distortions in more detail.

  • Ultimately, someone asking themselves this question is really telling themselves, subconsciously, “I am not going to have fun.” This results in feelings of anxiety, dread, and other unpleasant emotions.

  • Try to notice how often this “I am not going to have fun” message occurs. If you can, make a note of it on your phone or a piece of paper. Actively recording how often this occurs has been shown to decrease the frequency of negative self talk over time.

How can I get away from work?

  • Often this question is asked by someone that has a pattern of deprioritizing themselves at work, in their personal life, or both. The most intense version of this is Codependency.

  • Ultimately, no person can consistently place the needs of others above their own without experiencing mental health issues. (Even therapists take time off!)

  • It can be helpful to remember that self care, or prioritizing your own needs, is necessary to be effective at work.

  • It is also highly unlikely that your team, department, and/or organization will come crashing down when you take time off. So in the best way possible, try to remember that you are important, but not that important.

  • If you find that despite your best efforts you have difficulty letting go, then there’s a good chance your core sense of worth is too dependent upon work. This is when it can be helpful to talk to a professional.

This has to be amazing. I can’t waste this opportunity. I need to live my best life.

  • This is often brought up with clients that have issues with expectations. The grass is always greener on the other side.

  • The pressure some place upon themselves to have a wealth of experience, can often backfire, leading to anxiety and depressive symptoms.

  • Being completely in the moment is what leads to fulfillment. Telling yourself how to feel (“This should be amazing…why don’t I feel amazing”) will take you out of the moment.

  • If you find that you are putting extra pressure on yourself to maximize the moment, a mindfulness approach can help. To do this, focus on observing the present moment, in much the same way you would observe a scene when watching a movie.

  • When practiced on a regular basis, mindfulness skills utilize specific areas of the brain (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex) that help to regulate our emotional responses. The result is you will feel less anxiety about the situation.

Feel free to contact Good Therapy SF for more help with this, and other anxiety issues.